spiritsNEWS May 2021

Spirit Drinks Geographical Indications (GIs) – a backbone of Europe’s sustainable food production

European food and drinks products enjoy a great reputation across the globe and bring European culture, heritage, as well as the modern European way of life, to the world’s most remote areas. Equally, spirits Geographical Indication (GIs) have magnetic powers and attract millions of visitors from all countries to Europe’s remote, rural areas where fine spirit drinks are distilled in line with century-old traditions of the specific geographies. More often than not, these areas have been hit particularly hard by the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

Today, 240 spirits are GI protected and exported across the globe, with growing demand in Asia, Latin America and Africa in addition to the sustained demand in the USA and Canada. European spirit drinks combine traditional know-how with high production standards, including a long-standing commitment to the responsible & sustainable management of the environment. It is clear that if you are not sustainable, you degrade the livelihood of your area. Therefore, with the spreading of European GI products across the globe, the European understanding of sustainability is shared, encouraging the understanding that sustainable practice is best practice, and should become the standard for all products.

Against this background, the European Commission published its GI view website earlier this year, which includes a listing of GI technical files and their references to sustainability when it comes to GIs. GI holders are also invited to upload any existing sustainability references they adhere to, making GI view a compendium of GI’s sustainability. This overview will inform the EU COM’s efforts to develop a legislative proposal on the greening of GIs, which is expected to be published towards the end of the year. spiritsEUROPE is having ongoing exchanges with DG AGRI on the matter and is looking to organise a GI workshop inMay, which will be open to all GI holders and interested parties. Details of the workshop will be circulated. 

In this context, one should not forget to mention the EU’s promotion policy, which is under review. Some interest groups exert pressure to decrease the promotional funding for EU food products that do not correspond with certain, particular ideologies, such as GI alcoholic beverages. Excluding European GI products from EU promotion policies is expected to have detrimental effects on the sustainability of agricultural products around the globe. 

Many European food & drink products, including GI spirits, are best in class in terms of quality & sustainability standards – this needs to be recognised and rewarded by policy-makers. 

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